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How the Mouse-bird Made Fun of the Brownie

Once there was a conceited Brownie, who thought he could do more things and do them better than any other of his people. He had not tried yet, for he was very young, but he said he was going to do them some day!

One morning a sly old Brownie, really making fun of him, said: “Why don’t you catch that Phoebe-bird? It is quite easy if you put a little salt on his tail.” Away went Smarty Brownie to try. But the Phoebe would not sit still, and the Brownie came back saying: “He bobbed his tail so, the salt would not stay on.”

“Well,” said the sly old Brownie, “there is a little Mouse-bird whose tail never bobs. You can easily catch him, for you see, he does not even fly, but crawls like a mouse up the tree,” and he pointed to a little brown Creeper. By this time the young Brownie knew that the others were laughing at him, so he said rather hotly, “I’ll just show you right now.”

He took an acorn cup full of salt, and went after the Mouse-bird. It was at the bottom of the big tree, creeping up, round and round, as if on a spiral staircase, and the Brownie began to climb in the same way. But every little while the climber had to stop and rest. This had strange results, for there is a law in Brownie land, that wherever one of the little people stops to sit down, or rest, a toadstool must spring up for him to sit on. So the track of the Brownie up the trunk became one long staircase of toadstool steps, some close, some far apart, but each showing where the Brownie had rested. They came closer together toward the top where the Brownie had got tired, but he was coming very near to the Creeper now. He got his pinch of salt all ready, as his friends down below kept calling and jeering: “Now you’ve got him, now is your chance.” But just as he was going to leap forward and drop the salt on its tail, the Creeper gave a tiny little laugh like “Tee-tee-tee,” spread its wings, for it could fly very well, and sailed away to the bottom of the next tree to do the spiral staircase all over again, while Smarty Brownie was so mad that he jumped to the ground and hid away from his friends for two days. When he came back he did not talk quite so much as he used to. But to this day you can see the staircase of toadstools on the tree trunks where the Brownie went up.


The Pot-herb that Sailed with the Pilgrims

“Come,” said the Guide, “to-day I am going to show you a Pot-herb that came from England with the Pilgrim Fathers and spread over the whole of America. There is a story about it that will keep it ever in your memory.”

The Pilgrims had landed in Massachusetts, and slowly made farms for themselves as they cleared off the forest. They had a very hard time at first, but the Indians helped them; sometimes with gifts of venison, and sometimes by showing them which things in the woods were good to eat.

There was a Squaw named Monapini, “the Root-digger,” who was very clever at finding forest foods. She became friendly with a white woman named Ruth Pilgrim, and so Ruth’s family got the benefit of it, and always had on the table many good things that came from the woods.

One day, long after the farms were cleared and doing well, the white woman said, “See, Mother Monapini, thou hast shown me many things, now I have somewhat to show thee. There hath grown up in our wheat field a small herb that must have come from England with the wheat, for hitherto I have not seen it elsewhere. We call it lamb’s-quarter, for the lamb doth eat it by choice. Or maybe because we do eat it with a quarter of lamb. Nevertheless it maketh a good pot-herb when boiled.”

The old Indian woman’s eyes were fixed on the new plant that was good to eat: and she said, “Is it very good, oh white sister?”

“Yes, and our medicine men do say that it driveth out the poison that maketh itch and spots on the skin.” After a moment Monapini said, “It looketh to me like the foot of a wild goose.”

“Well found,” chuckled Ruth, “for sometimes our people do call it by that very name.”

“That tells me different,” said the Indian.

“What mean you,” said Ruth.

“Is not a goose foot very strong, so it never catcheth cold in the icy water?”


“And this hath the shape of a goose foot?”


“Then my Shaman tells that it is by such likeness that the Great Spirit showeth the goose foot plant to be charged with the driving out of colds.”

“It may be so,” said the white woman, “but this I know. It is very good and helpeth the whole body.”

The Indian picked a handful of the pot-herbs, then stared hard at the last; a very tall and strong one.

“What hast thou now, Monapini?” The red woman pointed to the stem of the lamb’s-quarter, whereon were long red streaks, and said: “This I see, that, even as the white-man’s herb came over the sea and was harmless and clean while it was weak, but grew strong and possessed this field, then was streaked to midheight with blood, so also shall they be who brought it-streaked at last to the very waist with blood-not the white men’s but the dark purple blood of the Indian. This the voices tell me is in the coming years, that this is what we shall get again for helping you-destruction in return for kindness. Mine inner eyes have seen it.” She threw down the new pot-herb and glided away, to be seen no more in the settlements of the white men.

And Ruth, as she gazed after her, knew that it was true. Had she not heard her people talking and planning? For even as the weed seed came with the wheat, so evil spirits came with the God-fearing Pilgrims, and already these were planning to put the heathens to the sword, when the Colony was strong enough.

So the Indian woman read the truth in the little pot-herb that sailed and landed with the Pilgrims; that stands in our fields to this day, streaked with the blood of the passing race-standing, a thing of remembrance.


How the Red Clover Got the White Mark on Its Leaves

Once upon a time a Bee, a Bug, and a Cow went marching up to Mother Carey’s palace in the hemlock grove, to tell her of their troubles. They complained that food was poor and scarce, and they were tired of the kinds that grew along the roadsides.

Mother Carey heard them patiently, then she said: “Yes, you have some reason to complain, so I will send you a new food called Clover. Its flower shall be full of honey for the Bee, its leaves full of cowfood and its cellar shall be stocked with tiny pudding bags of meal for the Bug, that is for good little Bug-folks who live underground.”

Now the tribes of the Bee, the Bug, and the Cow had a fine time feasting, for the new food was everywhere.

But Cows are rather stupid you know. They found the new food so good that they kept on munching everything that had three round leaves, thinking it was Clover, and very soon a lot of them were poisoned with strange plants that no wise Cow would think of eating.

So Mother Carey called a Busy Brownie, and put him on guard to keep the Cows from eating the poison plants by mistake.

At first it was good fun, and the Brownie enjoyed it because it made him feel important. But he got very tired of his job and wanted to go to the ball game.

He sat down on a toadstool, and looked very glum. He could hear the other Brownies shouting at the game, and that made him feel worse. Then he heard a great uproar, and voices yelling “A home run!” “A home run!” That drove him wild. He had been whittling the edge of the toadstool with his knife, and now he slashed off a big piece of the cap, he was so mad.

Then up he got and said to the Cows: “See here, you fool Cows, I can’t stay here for ever trying to keep you from eating poison, but I’ll do this much. I’ll stamp all the good-to-eat leaves with a mark that will be your guide.”

So he made a rubber stamp out of part of the toadstool he was sitting on, and stamped every Clover leaf in that pasture, so the Cows could be sure, then skipped away to the ball game.

When Mother Carey heard of his running away from his job, she was very angry. She said: “Well, you Bad Brownie, you should be ashamed, but that white mark was a good idea so I’ll forgive you, if you go round, and put it on every Clover leaf in the world.”

He had to do it, though it looked like an endless task, and he never would have finished it, had not the other Brownies all over the world come to help him; so it was done at last. And that is the reason that every Clover leaf to-day has on it the white mark like an arrowhead, the Brownie sign for “good-to eat.”

The Cows get along better now, but still they are very stupid; they go munching ahead without thinking, and will even eat the blossoms which belong to the Bees. And the Bees have to buzz very loudly and even sting the Cows on their noses to keep them from stealing the bee-food. The good little Bugs underground have the best time, for there the Cows can not harm them, and the Bees never come near. They eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are cold, which is their idea of a good time; so except for some little quarrels between the Cows and the Bees they have all gotten along very well ever since.


The Shamrock and Her Three Sisters

The Shamrock is really the White Clover. It is much the same shape as the Red Clover, and has the same food bags in its cellar. It is just as good for Cows and even better for Bees; so the Brownie stamped all its leaves with the white arrow mark, as you can plainly see. This plant, as you know, is the emblem of Ireland.

The story-tellers say that St. Patrick was preaching to Leary, the heathen King of Tara in Ireland hoping to turn him into a Christian. The king listened attentively, but he was puzzled by St. Patrick’s account of the Trinity. “Stop,” said the king. “How can there be three Gods in one and only one God where there are three. That is impossible.” St. Patrick stooped down and picking up a Shamrock leaf, said: “See, there it is, growing in your own soil; there are three parts but only one leaf.” The king was so much struck by this proof that he became a Christian and ever since the Shamrock has been the emblem of Ireland.

Now to fill out the history of the Clovers, I should tell you of the other three. The next is called Alsike, or the Pink Clover.

When you look at this Alsike or Alsatian Clover, you might think its mother was a red clover and its father a white one, for it is about half way between them in size, and its bloom is pink on the outside and white in the middle. Evidently, the Brownie didn’t think much of it, for he did not put his arrow mark on its leaves. Still the Cows think it is good, the Bees think it is fine, and it always carried lots of food bags in its cellar. So also does the next sister-Melilot, the Yellow Clover or Honey-lotus-and the last and sweetest of them all, is the Sweet Clover that spreads sweet smells in the old-fashioned garden.


The Indian Basket-maker

“Come, little Nagami, my Bird-Singer, you are ten years old, it is time you learned to make baskets. I made my first when I was but eight,” said Mother Akoko proudly, for she was the best basket-maker on the river.

So they took a sharp stick, and went into the woods. Akoko looked for spruce trees that had been blown down by the storm, but found none, so she stopped under some standing spruce, at a place with no underbrush and said: “See, Nagami, here we dig for wattap.”

The spruce roots or “wattap” were near the surface and easily found, but not easily got out, because they were long, tangled and criss-crossed. Yet, by pulling up, and cutting under, they soon got a bundle of roots like cords, and of different lengths, from two feet to a yard, or more.

“Good,” said Akoko; “this is enough and we need not soak them, for it is summer, and the sap is running. If it were fall we should have to boil them. Now you must scrape them clear of the brown bark.” So Nagami took her knife and worked for an hour, then came with the bundle saying: “See, Mother, they are smooth, and so white that they have not a brown spot left.” “Good,” said Akoko, “now you need some bark of the willow for sewing cord. Let us look along the river bank.”

There they found the round-leafed, or fish-net willow, and stripped off enough of its strong bark to make a bundle as big as one hand could hold.

This also had to be scraped clear of the brown skin, leaving only the strong whitish inner bark, which, when split into strips, was good for sewing.

“See, my Nagami, when I was a little girl I had only a bone needle made from the leg of a deer, but you have easy work; here is a big steel packing needle, which I bought for you from a trader. This is how you make your basket.”

So Akoko began a flat coil with the spruce roots, and sewed it together with the willow bark for thread, until it was a span wide. And whenever a new root was to be added, she cut both old piece and new, to a long point, so they would overlap without a bump.

Then the next coil of the spruce roots was laid on, not flat and level, but raised a little. Also the next, until the walls were as high as four fingers. Then Akoko said, “Good, that is enough. It is a fine corn basket. But we must give it a red rim for good luck.”

So they sought in a sunny place along the shore, and found the fruit of the squawberry or blitum. “See,” said Akoko, “the miscawa. Gather a handful, my Nagami. They make the red basket-dye.”

They crushed the rich red berries, saving the red juice in a clam shell, and soaked a few strands of the white willow bark in the stain. When they were dry, Nagami was taught to add a rim to her basket, by sewing it over and over as in the picture.

Then Akoko said, “Good, my little Bird-Singer, you have done well, you have made some old black roots into a beautiful basket.”

N.B. The Guide will remember that rattan and raffia can be used for this when it is impossible to get spruce roots and willow bark. Good dyes may be made from many different berries.


Crinkleroot; or Who Hid the Salad?

It has long been the custom of the Brownies to have a great feast on the first of the merry month of May, to celebrate the return of the spring.

One springtime long ago, they got ready as usual. The King of the Brownies had invited all the leaders; the place for the dinner was chosen in a grove of mandrakes whose flat umbrellas made a perfect roof, rain or shine. The Bell Bird, whose other name is Wood Thrush, was ringing his bell, and calling all the Chief Brownies by name.

“Ta-rool-ya! ting-a-ling-ling-ling.

“Oka-lee! ting-a-ling-ling-ling.

“Cherk! ting-a-ling-ling-ling.

“Come to the feasting! ting-a-ling-ling-ling.

A hundred glow worms were told to hurry up with their lights and be ready for that night, and busy Brownies gathered good things from woods and waters, for the feast.

May Day came bright and beautiful. The busy ones had all the “eats” in the Mandrake Hall, the glowworms were sleeping soundly to fill their storage batteries ready for the night. It made the salamanders’ mouths water to see so many good things; but they were not asked, so stayed away. There were dewdrops in acorn cups, and honey on the wax. There were clam shells piled up with red checkerberries, and caddis worms on the half shell, with spicebush nubbins. A huge white Mecha-meck was the chief dish, with bog nuts on the side. There were lovely long crinkle salads. And last, there were gumdrops from the sweet birch, while at each place was a pussy willow to dust the food over with golden pollen that gave it a pleasant peppery tang. All the guests were there, and the feast was nearly over, when a terrible thing took place!

Of all the dreaded happenings in the world of beauty there is nothing else so feared as the forest fire. There is not much danger of it in springtime, but it is possible at any season, after a long dry spell. Words cannot tell of the horror it spreads, as it comes raging through the woods destroying all beautiful living things.

And right in the middle of the feast, the dreadful news was carried by a flying Night-bird.

“Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!” he screamed, and almost at once the smoke came drifting through the banquet hall, so they knew it was true.

There was mad haste to escape, and only two ways were open. One was to get across some big stream, and the other was to hide in a cave underground. The birds took the first way, and the Brownies the second. Every Woodchuck den was just packed with Brownies within a few minutes. But the busy Brownie who was chief steward and had charge of the feast, had no idea of leaving all the good things to burn up, if he could help it. First he sent six of his helpers to make a deep pit for the big Mecha-meck, and while they did that he began hiding all the dishes in the ground. Last he dug some deep holes and quickly buried all the crinkle salads; then he ran for his life into a cave.

The raging fire came along. It is too horrible to tell about, for it was sent by the Evil One. The lovely woods were left black without a living thing. But the very next day, Mother Carey and Mother Earth and El Sol, set about saving the wreck, and in a marvellously short time actually had made it green again. The mayflowers came up a second time that year, the violets came back, and in each place where the Brownies had hid a salad there came up a curious plant that never had been seen before. It had three saw-edged leaves and a long wand, much like the one carried by the Chief Steward. I never was able to find out his name for sure, but I think it was Trileaf or Three-leaves. Anyway, if you dig under his sign and sceptre wand, you will surely find the salad, and very good indeed it is to eat; it was not hurt in the least by the fire.

But from that day, the Brownies have been very shy of feasting during dry weather in the woods. They generally have their banquets now in some meadow, and afterward you can tell the place of the feast by the circle of little toadstools called fairy rings. For you know that wherever a Brownie sits, a toadstool must spring up for him to sit on.


The Mecha-meck

That fearful time when the forest fire set all the Brownies busy burying their food and dishes at the feast-hall, you remember it took six of them to carry and hide the Mecha-meck. For it is a large fat white root as big as a baby, and sometimes it has arms or legs, so that when Monapini told Ruth Pilgrim about it she called it “Man-of-the-earth.”

You remember that the busy Brownie hid all the Crinkle salads, and so saved them; and most of us have found the Crinkleroot and eaten it since. But how many of us have found the Mecha-meck? I know only one man who has. We call him the Wise Woodman. He found and dug out the one from which I made the picture. It was two and a half feet long and weighed fifteen pounds-fifteen pounds of good food. Think of it! Above it and growing out of its hiding place was a long trailing vine that looked like a white morning-glory. There is always one of these over the Mecha-meck. And by that you may find it, if you look along the sunny banks outside of the woods. But still it is very hard to find. I never yet got one, though I have found many of the crinkle-root salads. Of course, that is easy to explain, for the busy Brownies buried hundreds of the salads, but only one of the big fat Mecha-meck.


Dutchman’s Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches]

Of course they are not, for no Dutchman I ever saw could wear such tiny things. I will tell you what they really are and how that came to be.

You remember how the Brownies assembled for the feast on May Day when the Glow worms were the lamps and the Wood Thrush rang the bell. Well, it so happened that day that a great crowd of the merrymakers gathered long before the feast was ready, and while they were wondering what to do someone shouted: “See, how fine and warm the water is where the brook spreads out into the ditch. Let us have our first swim of the season right now!”

So they all went with a whoop! stripped off their clothes, and into their swimming breeches with a perfect riot of glee.

Then how they did splash! Some blind folks thought it must be a million early pollywogs splashing. But the swim ended with another racket when the dinner bell rang.

Each splashing Brownie hopped out and hung up his breeches to dry as he got into his clothes.

Then you remember the fire came along and scared them away. Of course the breeches were wet, so they didn’t get singed; and there you can see them hanging to this day on the first of May. That is what they really are-Brownies’ Breeches. And because the Brownies often swim in a ditch, they are called ditch-man’s breeches; but believe me, they are not Dutchman’s breeches and never could be.


The Seven Sour Sisters

If you look along any half-open bank in the edge of the woods, or even in the woods itself, you are sure to see one of the Seven Sorrel Sisters, with leaves a little like Clover, only notched in the end and without the white marks, that the Brownie put on the Clover. There are seven of them, according to most doctors; five have yellow eyes, one purple, and one white streaked with blood. Their Latin name means “vinegar” and their Greek name means “acid.” “Sorrel” itself means “Little sour one,” so you see they have the reputation of a sour bunch. If you eat one of the leaves, you will agree that the name was well-chosen, and understand why the druggists get the tart “salt of lemons” from this family. The French use these Sour Sisters for their sour soup. But in spite of their unsweetness, they are among the pretty things of the woods; their forms are delicate and graceful; their eyes are like jewels, and when the night comes down, they bow their heads, gracefully fold their hands, and sleep like a lot of tired children.


Self-heal or Blue-curls in the Grass

You should know the history of the lowly little flower called Blue-curls; and you must remember that flowers have their troubles just as you have. For one thing, flowers must get their pollen or yellow flower-dust, carried to some other of their kind, or they cannot keep on growing good seed. And since the flower cannot walk about finding places for its pollen, it generally makes a bargain with a bee. It says, “If you will carry my pollen to my cousins yonder, I will give you a sweet sip of nectar.” That is where the bees get the stuff for all their honey, and that is how the pollen is carried.

Well, the modest little Blue-curls long had had a working agreement with the Meadow Bees, and got on nicely. But one summer Blue-curls became discontented. She saw all the other plants with wonderful gifts that had power to cure pain and sickness; while she was doing nothing but live her own easy life, and she felt she was a nobody.

So one day as Mother Carey’s slowest steed was swishing over the grass, Blue-curls cried out: “Mother Carey, Mother Carey, won’t you hear me and grant me a gift?”

“What is it, little one?” said the All-mother.

“Oh, Mother Carey, the pansy cures heartache, the monkshood cures canker-lip, the tansy cures colds, and all the others have some joy and honour of service, but I am good for nothing, Mother Carey so the wise men despise me. Won’t you give me a job? Won’t you give me some little power?”

“Little one, such an asking never finds me deaf. I love those who would help. I will give you a little bit of all healing so that you shall be good medicine, if not the best, for all ills, and men shall call you ‘Self-heal’ and ‘All-heal’ for you shall have all healing in yourself.”

And it has been so ever since. So that some who go by looks call the modest little meadow flower, “Blue-curls in the Grass,” but the old herb-men who know her goodness call her “All-heal” or “Self-heal.”


The Four Butterflies You See Every Summer

There are four Butterflies that you are sure to see every summer, on our fields; and remember that each of them goes through the same changes. First it is an egg, then a greedy grub, next a hanging bundle-baby, and last a beautiful winged fairy, living a life of freedom and joy.

In the picture I have shown the butterflies life size, but you must add the colour as you get each one to copy.

The first is the White or Cabbage Butterfly that flits over our gardens all summer long.

It is not a true American, but came from Europe in 1860 and landed at Quebec, from whence it has spread all over the country. In the drawing I have shown the female; the male is nearly the same but has only one round dark spot on the front wings. Its grub is a little naked green caterpillar, that eats very nearly a million dollars’ worth of cabbages a year; so it is a pity it was ever allowed to land in this country. There are moths that we should like to get rid of, but this is the only butterfly that is a pest.

2nd. The Yellow or Clouded Sulphur Butterfly. You are sure to find it, as soon as you begin to look for butterflies. This is the one that is often seen in flocks about mud puddles.

When I was a very small boy, I once caught a dozen of them, and made a little beehive to hold them, thinking that they would settle down and make themselves at home, just like bees or pigeons. But the grown-ups made me let them fly away, for the Sulphur is a kindly creature, and does little or no harm.

One of the most beautiful things I ever came across, was, when about ten years old, I saw on a fence stake ahead of me a big bird that was red, white and blue, with a flaming yellow fan-crest. Then as I came closer, I knew that it was a red-headed woodpecker, with a Sulphur Butterfly in his beak; this made the crest; what I thought was blue turned out to be his glossy black back reflecting the blue sky.

3rd. The next is the Red Admiral or Nettle Butterfly. The “red” part of the name is right, but why “Admiral”? I never could see unless it was misprint for “Admirable.”

This beautiful insect lays its eggs and raises its young on nettles, and where nettles are, there is the Red Admiral also. And that means over nearly all the world! Its caterpillar is not very well protected with bristles, not at all when compared with the Woolly-bear, but it lives in the nettles, and, whether they like it or not, the hospitable nettles with their stings protect the caterpillar. The crawler may be grateful, but he shows it in a poor way, for he turns on the faithful nettle, and eats it up. In fact the only food he cares about is nettle-salad, and he indulges in it several times a day, yes all day long, eating, growing and bursting his skin a number of times, till he is big enough to hang himself up for the winter, probably in a nettle. Then next spring he comes forth, in the full dress uniform of a Red Admiral, gold lace, red sash, silver braid and all.

4th. The last of the four is the Tiger Swallowtail. You are sure to see it some day-the big yellow butterfly that is striped like a tiger, with peacock’s feathers in its train, and two long prongs, like a swallow-tail, to finish off with. It is found in nearly all parts of the Eastern States and Canada. I saw great flocks of them on the Slave River of the North.

It is remarkable in that there are both blondes and brunettes among its ladies. The one shown in the drawing is a blonde. The brunettes are so much darker as to be nearly black; and so different that at one time everyone thought they were of a different kind altogether.


The Beautiful Poison Caterpillar

The lovely Io Moth is one that you will see early, and never forget, for it is common, and ranges over all the country from Canada to the Gulf. When you see it, you will be inclined to spell its name Eye-oh-for it has on each wing a splendid eye like that on a peacock’s tail-feather, while the rest of its dress is brown velvet and gold.

There is a strange chapter in the life of Io, which you should know because it shows that Mother Carey never gives any wonderful gift to her creatures without also giving with it some equal burden of sorrow.

This is how it all came about.

Long ago when the little ones of the Io Moth were small, they were, like most caterpillars, very ugly little things. They felt very badly about it, and so they set out one day for the great Home Place of Mother Carey in the Whispering Grove of the Ages.

There they prayed, “Dear Mother Carey, we are not of an ugly race, why should we be so ugly as caterpillars? Will you not make us beautiful, for beauty is one of the best things of all?”

Mother Carey smiled and waved a finger toward a little Brownie, who came with a tray on which were two cups; one full of bright sparkling pink stuff, and the other with something that looked like dark green oil. But the glasses were joined at the top, there was but one place to drink, and that reached both.

Then Mother Carey said, “These are the goblets of life, one is balm and will give you joy, the other is gall and will give you suffering. You may drink little or much, but you must drink equally of both. Now what would ye?”

The little ugly creatures whispered together, then one said: “Mother Carey, if we drink, will it give us beauty?”

“Yes, my children, the red goblet of life will give you beauty, but with it the other will give you grief.”

They whispered together, then all the little crawlers went silently forward, and each took a long drink of the double goblet.

Then they crawled away, and at once became the most beautiful of all caterpillars, brilliant jewel-green with stripes of pink, velvet, and gold. Never before were there seen such exquisite little crawlers.

But now a sad thing happened. They were so beautiful that many creatures became their enemies, and began to kill them and eat them one after another. They crawled as fast as they could, and hid away, but many of them were killed by birds and beasts of prey, as well as by big fierce insects.

They did not know what to do, so next day the few that were left crawled back to the Grove of Ages, and once more stood before Mother Carey.

“Well, my Beauty-crawlers,” she said, “what would you?”

“Oh, Mother Carey, it is fearful, everyone seeks to destroy us. Most of us are killed, and many of us wounded. Will you not protect us?”

“You drank of the two goblets, my children. I warned you that your beauty would bring terrible trouble with it.”

They bowed their little heads in silent sorrow, for they knew that that was true.

“Now,” said the All-Mother, “do you wish to go back and be ugly again?”

They whispered together and said: “No, Mother Carey, it is better to be beautiful and die.”

Then Mother Carey looked on them very kindly, and said: “Little ones, I love your brave spirit. You shall not die. Neither shall you lose your beauty. I will give you a defence that will keep off all your enemies but one, that is the Long-stinger Wasp, for you must in some way pay for your loveliness.” She waved her wand, and all over each of the Beauty-crawlers, there came out bunches of sharp stickers like porcupine quills, only they were worse than porcupine quills for each of the stickers was poisoned at the tip, so that no creature could touch the Beauty-crawlers without being stung.

The birds and beasts let them alone now, or suffer a terrible punishment from the poison spears. You children, too, must beware of them; touch them not, they will give you festering wounds. There is only one creature now that the Beauty-crawlers truly fear; that is the Long-stinger Wasp. He does indeed take toll of their race, but that is the price they still must pay for their beauty. Did they not drink of the double goblet?


The Great Splendid Silk-Moth or Samia Cecropia

When I was a very small boy, I saw my father bring in from the orchard a ragged looking thing like parchment wrapped up with some tangled hair; it was really the bundle-baby of this Moth. He kept it all winter, and when the spring came, I saw for the first time the great miracle of the insect world-the rag bundle was split open, and out came this glorious creature with wings of red and brown velvet, embroidered with silver and spots that looked like precious stones. It seemed the rarest thing in the world, but I have found out since, that it is one of our common moths, and any of you can get one, if you take the trouble.

Now listen, and you shall hear of what happened long ago to a green crawler who was born to be a splendid Silk-Moth, but who spoiled it all by a bad temper.

It had been a very cold, wet summer, and one day, when the wind was whispering, he cried out: “Mother Carey, when I have done with my working life, and go into the Great Sleep, grant that it may never rain on me for I hate rain, and it has done nothing but pour all summer long.” And he shivered the red knobs on his head with peevishness.

“You silly little green crawler, don’t you think I know better than you what is good for you? Would you like there to be no rain?”

“Yes, I would,” said the red-knobbed Samia rebelliously.

“Would you?” said the All-Mother to another green crawler, who hung on a near-by limb.

“Mother Carey, we have had a wet, cold summer, and the rain has been miserable, but I know you will take care of us.”

“Good,” said the All-Mother: “then, in this way it shall be. You little Red-Knobs shall have what you so much wish, you shall hang up in a dry loft where not a drop of dew even shall touch you in your bundle-baby sleep. And you little Yellow-Knobs shall hang under a limb where every rain that comes shall drench your outer skin.” And she left them.

When the time came to hang up, Red-Knobs was led to a place as dry as could be, under a shed and swung his bundle-baby hammock from the rafters.

Yellow-Knobs hung up his hammock under a twig in the rose garden.

The winter passed, and the springtime came with the great awakening day. Each of the bundle-babies awoke from his hammock and broke his bonds. Each found his new wings, and set about shaking them out to full size and shape. Those of the rain-baby came quickly to their proper form, and away he flew to rejoice in perfect life. But though the other shook and shook, his wings would not fluff out. They seemed dried up; they were numbed and of stunted growth.

Shake as he would, the wings stayed small and twisted. And as he struggled, a Butcher-bird came by. His fierce eye was drawn by the fluttering purple thing. It had no power to escape. He tore its crumpled wings from its feathery form, and made of it a meal. But before dying it had time to say, “Oh, Mother Carey, now I know that your way was the best.”


The Green Fairy with the Long Train

Some fairies are Brownies and some are Greenies, and of all that really and truly dance in the moonlight right here in America, Luna Greenie seems the most wonderful; and this is her history:

Once upon a time there was a seed pearl that dropped from the robe of a green fairy. It stuck on the leaf of a butternut tree till one warm day Mother Carey, who knows all the wild things and loves them all, touched it with her magic wand, called Hatch-awake, and out of the seed pearl came an extraordinarily ugly little dwarf, crawling about on many legs. He was just as greedy as he was ugly, and he ate leaf after leaf of the butternut tree, and grew so fat that he burst his skin. Then a new skin grew, and he kept on eating and bursting until he was quite big. But he had also become wise and gentle; he had learned many things, and was not quite so greedy now.

Mother Carey, the All-Mother, had been watching him, and knew that now he was ready for the next step up. She told him to make himself a hammock of rags and leaves, in the butternut tree. When he had crawled into it, she touched him with her wand, the very same as the one she used when she sent the Sleeping Beauty into her long sleep. Then that little dwarf went soundly to sleep, hanging in his hammock.

Summer passed; autumn came; the leaves fell from the butternut tree, taking the bundle-baby with them, exactly as in the old rhyme:

Rock-a-bye baby on the tree-top,
When the wind blows, your cradle will rock,
When the cold weather makes all the leaves fall,
Down tumbles baby and cradle and all.

But the hammock, with its sleeper, landed in a deep bed of leaves, and lay there all winter, quite safe and warm.

Then when the springtime sun came over the hill, Mother Carey came a-riding on the Warm Wind, and waving her wand. She stopped and kissed the sleeping bundle-baby, just as the Prince kissed the Sleeping Beauty, and instantly the baby awoke. Then happened the strangest thing. Out of that ragged old hammock there came the most wonderful and beautiful Green Fairy ever seen, with wings and with two trains; and as it came out and looked shyly around, trembling with new life, Mother Carey whispered, “Go to the butternut grove and see what awaits you there.”

So away she went. Oh, how easy and glorious it is to fly! She could remember how once she used to crawl everywhere. And through the soft sweet night she flew, as she was told, straight to the butternut grove. As she came near she saw many green fairies-a great crowd of them-gathered in the moonlight, and dancing round and round in fluttering circles, swooping about and chasing each other, or hiding in the leaves. They did not feast, for these fairies never eat, and they drink only honey from flowers. But there was a spirit of great joy over them all. And there were some there with longer head plumes than those she wore. They seemed stronger and one of them came with a glad greeting to the new Green Dancer and though she flew away, she was bursting with joy that he should single her out. He pursued her till he caught her, and hand in hand they danced together in the moonlight. She was happier than she had known it was possible to be, and danced all night-that wonderful wedding dance. But she was very tired when morning was near, and high in the tree she slept so soundly that she never noticed that many seed pearls that were clustered on the lining of her robe had got loose and rolled into the crevices of the trunk. There they lay until Mother Carey came to touch them with her magic wand, so each became a crawler-dwarf, then a bundle-baby, and at last a dancing fairy.

But the Green Dancer did not know that-she knew only that it was a glorious thing to be alive, and fly, and to dance in the moonlight.

You must never fail to watch under the butternut tree on mid-summer nights, for it is quite possible that you may see the wedding dance of the Luna Greenie and her sisters with the long-trained robes.


The Wicked Hoptoad and the Little Yellow Dragon

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little Yellow Dragon, who lived a happy and innocent life on the high banks of a prattling stream. The Dragon himself was dumb but he loved a merry noise, and nothing pleased him more than the prattling of the water. Sometimes this pleasant little Dragon went up stream, where it was noisy, and sometimes he went down stream, where it was very silent, and rested awhile in little pools. Here it was that he met with his first enemy, a warty Hoptoad with jealous eyes. That Toad thought that he owned the pools because he bathed there every springtime, and though it was a kind little Dragon, the Toad hated him, and began to plot against him.

“Ho! little Yellow Dragon,” he said, “you are very wonderful to see, and you must be very clever; but you haven’t got everything you want, have you?”

The Dragon smiled, shook his head, and made silent signs with his lips. Then the Toad understood, for he said: “Ho-ho, I understand that you cannot speak. But are you happy?”

The Dragon smiled sweetly and nodded, then pointed to the stream.

That made the Toad madder than ever, for he thought it meant that the Dragon was claiming the whole stream. So the Toad said: “See, Dragon, there is a wonderful food that you have never tasted, that is a poached egg.”

This he said with his heart full of guile, for he knew full well that poached eggs are deadly poison to Dragons.

The Dragon looked puzzled, and the Toad said, “Have you?”

The Dragon shook his head. “Well,” said the Toad, “it is the most delicious thing in the woods; now you wait and see.”

He went hoppity-hop, to a sand-bank where he had seen a Turtle lay its eggs that morning. He dug out one. He rolled it upon a stone, and split it open with the sharp spur on his heel. As soon as it was stiffened by the sun heat, he said, “Here now, Dragon, swallow it down, while I get another for myself.”

The poor innocent little Dragon did not know any better. He tried to swallow the poached egg. The moment he did, it stuck in his throat, and poisoned him. At once his toes sank into the ground. He turned green all over, and his head was changed into a strange new flower. There it is to this day, standing silently where it can hear the brook a-prattling. Its body is green all over, and its head is yellow and its jaws are wide open with a poached egg stuck in its throat. And that is how it all came about. Some call it Toad Flax, and some call it Butter and Eggs, but we who know how it happened call it the Dragon and the Poached Egg.

Poor dear little Yellow Dragon!


The Fairy Bird or the Humming-bird Moth

When I was a schoolboy, a number of my companions brought the news that the strangest bird in the world had come that day to our garden and hovered over the flowers. It was no bigger than a bumble-bee. “No! It was not a humming-bird,” they said, “it was smaller by far, much more beautiful, and it came and went so fast that no one could see it go.”

Every guess that I made seemed not to fit the wonderful bird, or help to give it a name that would lead us to its history in the books. The summer went by, several schoolmates saw the Wonderbird, and added stories of its marvellous smallness and mysterious habits. Its body, they said, was of green velvet with a satin-white throat; it had a long beak-at least an inch long-a fan-tail of many feathers, two long plumes from its head, “the littlest feet you ever have seen,” and large lustrous eyes that seemed filled with human intelligence. “It jest looked right at you, and seemed like a fairy looking at you.”

The wonder grew. I made a sketch embodying all the points that my companions noted about the Fairy Bird. The first drawing shows what it looked like, and also gives the exact size they said it was.

It seemed a cruel wrong that let so many of them see the thing that was of chief interest to me, yet left me out. It clearly promised a real fairy, an elfin bird, a wonderful messenger from the land I hungered to believe in.

But at last my turn came. One afternoon two of the boys ran toward me, shouting: “Here it is, the little Fairy Bird, right in the garden over the honeysuckle. C’mon, quick!”

I rushed to the place, more excited than I can tell. Yes, there it was, hovering over the open flowers-tiny, wonderful, humming as it swung on misty wings. I made a quick sweep of my insect net and, marvellous to relate, scooped up the Fairy Bird. I was trembling with excitement now, not without a sense of wickedness that I should dare to net a fairy-practically an angel. But I had done it, and I gloated over my captive, in the meshes. Yes, the velvet body and snowy throat were there, the fan-tail, the plumes and the big dark eyes, but the creature was not a bird; it was an insect! Dimly now I remembered, and in a few hours, learned, as I had feared, that I had not captured a young angel or even a fairy-it was nothing but a Humming-bird Moth, a beautiful insect-common in some regions, scarce in some, such as mine-but perfectly well known to men of science and never afterward forgotten by any of that eager schoolboy group.


Ribgrass or Whiteman’s-Foot

If you live in the country or in a small town, you will not have to go many steps, in summer time, before you find the little plant known as Ribgrass, Plantain, or Whiteman’s-foot. If you live in a big city, you may find it in any grassy place, but will surely see it, as soon as you reach the suburbs. It grows on the ground, wherever it can see the sun, and is easily known by the strong ribs, each with a string in it when you pull the leaf apart. The Indians call it Whiteman’s-foot, not because it is broad and flat, but because it came from Europe with the white man; it springs up wherever he sets his foot, and it has spread over all America. Gardeners think it a troublesome weed; but the birds love its seed; canary birds delight in it; and each plant of the Ribgrass may grow many thousands of seeds in a summer.

How many? Let us see! Take a seed-stalk of the Plantain and you will find it thickly set with little cups, as in the drawing. Open one of these cups, and you find in it five seeds. Count the cups; there are two hundred on this stalk, each with about five seeds, that is, one thousand seeds; but the plant has five or more seed-stalks, some have more (one before me now has seventeen), but suppose it has only ten; then there are 10,000 seeds each summer from one little plant. Each seed can grow up into a new plant; and, if each plant were as far from the next as you can step, the little ones in a row the following summer would reach for nearly six miles; that is, from the City Hall to the end of Central Park, New York.

On the third year if all had the full number of seed, and all the seed grew into plants, there would be enough to go more than twice round the world. No wonder it has spread all over the country.



Once upon a time there was a missionary named the Rev. John T. Arum, who set out to preach to the Indians. He had a good heart but a bitter, biting tongue. He had no respect for the laws of the Indians, so they killed him, and buried him in the woods. But out of his grave came a new and wonderful plant, shaped like a pulpit, and right in the middle of it, as usual, was the Reverend Jack hard at it, preaching away.

If you dig down under the pulpit you will find the preacher’s body, or his heart, in the form of a round root. Taste it and you will believe that the preacher had a terribly biting tongue, but treat it properly, that is boil it, and you will find out that after all he had a good little heart inside. Even the Indians have discovered his good qualities and have become very fond of him.


How the Indian Pipe Came

In the last tale you learned the fate of the Rev. John T. Arum, and the origin of Jack-in-the-Pulpit. But you must not suppose for a moment that the Indians decided in a hurry to kill the missionary. No, they had too much sense of fair play for that. They held a great many councils first to find some way of curbing his tongue, and making him mind his own business. In fact, they got into the habit of holding a council every few minutes to discuss the question, no matter where they were or what else they were doing. So that pretty nearly every part of the woods was in time used for a council ring to discuss the fate of the Rev. John T. Arum.

Of course, you know that no Indian can hold a council without smoking the Peace Pipe, and when the council is over, he empties out the ashes of the pipe. So that when all those councils were over, when the matter was settled, when the missionary was buried, and when the warrior had gone to the ghost land, there came solemnly poking its white bowl and stem from under the leaves an Indian pipe, at the very spot where the Councillors had emptied the ashes. It is a beautifully shaped pipe, with a curved and feathered stem, but it has none of the bright colours of the old Peace Pipe. It cannot have them for this is only a ghost Pipe to show where the council used to be; and one pipe there is for each council held on that spot, so you see how many, many councils the Indians had, before they killed the troublesome preacher. And sometimes you can find a pipe that has the bowl still filled with ghost tobacco or even a little red ghost fire, showing that the warriors had to hurry away before that council was finished. Whenever you find the ghost pipe in the woods, you are sure to see close by either a log, a bank or a rock on which the Councillors sat to talk it over.


The Cucumber Under the Brownie’s Umbrella

The Indians had Brownies, only they called them Pukwudjies, and I am going to tell you a story of an Indian Brownie.

Whenever the Indians got together for a council, the Brownies did the same thing, in the woods near by. It was a kind of Brownie Fair, and some of the little people used to have stands and sell refreshments. Berries were scarce in the springtime, but the Brownies were very fond of cucumber. So there were always one or two Cucumber Brownies, who set up their little umbrellas, and sold slices of Cucumber to the others.

When it was time to go home, or when the sun got so hot that the cucumbers were likely to spoil, they would bury them in the ground, but leave the umbrella to mark the place. And there they are yet; many a time have I found the umbrella, and dug under it to find the cucumber. It is delicious eating; everything that Brownies like is. You can find it, and try it. It is one of the things that Monapini taught Ruth Pilgrim to eat. (Tale 18).

Of course, the Brownies do not like you to dig up their treasure or good-to-eats, but there are plenty more, far more than they ever need. “Yet what about it,” you say, “if the Brownie happens to be there?”

He may be sitting right under the umbrella, but remember the little people are invisible to our eyes. You will not see him; at least I never did.


The Hickory Horn-devil

Hush, whisper! Did you ever meet a Hickory Horn-devil? No! Well I did, and I tell you he is a terror. Look at this picture of him. It is true, only he is not quite so big as that, though he looks as if he might be. And I was not quite so small as that, only I felt as if I were! And everything about him looked horribly strong, poisonous and ugly. He was a real devil.

I did not know his history then; I did not learn it for a long time after, but I can tell it to you now.

Once upon a time there was a little, greenish, blackish worm. He loved pretty things, and he hated to be ugly, as he was. No one wanted him, and he was left all alone, a miserable little outcast. He complained bitterly to Mother Carey, and asked if she would not bless him with some grace, to help him in his troubles.

Mother Carey said: “Little ugly worm; you are having a hard time, because in your other life, before you came into this shape, you had an ugly, hateful spirit. You must go through this one as you are, until the Great Sleep comes; after that, you will be exactly what you have made of yourself.”

Then the little ugly worm said: “Oh Mother Carey, I am as miserable as I can be; let me be twice as ugly, if, in the end, I may be twice as beautiful.”

Mother Carey said gravely, “Do you think you could stand it, little worm? We shall see.”

From that time the worm got bigger and uglier, no creature would even talk to him. The birds seemed to fear him, and the Squirrels puffed out little horror-snorts, when they saw him coming, even the other worms kept away from him.

So he went on his lonely life, uglier and more hated than ever. He lived chiefly on a big hickory tree, so men called him the Hickory Horn-devil.

One day as he was crawling on a fence, a hen with chickens came running after him, to eat him. But when she saw how ugly he was she cried: “Oh, Lawk, lawk! Come away, children, at once!”

At another time he saw a Chipmunk teaching its little ones to play tag. They looked so bright and happy, he longed, not to join them because he could only crawl, but to have the happiness of looking on. But when he came slowly forward, and the old Chipmunk saw him waving his horns and looking like a green poisonous reptile, she screamed, “Run, my children!” and all darted into their hole while Mother Chipmunk stuffed up the doorway with earth.

But the most thrilling thing of all that he saw was one day as the sun went down, a winged being of dazzling beauty alighted for a moment on his hickory tree. Never had the Horn-devil seen such a dream of loveliness. Her slender body was clad in rose velvet, and her wings were shining with gold. The very sight of her made him hate himself, yet he could not resist the impulse to crawl nearer, to gaze at her beauty.

But her eyes rested a moment on his horrible shape, and she fled in fear, while a voice near by said: “The Spangled Queen does not love poisonous reptiles.” Then the poor little Horn-devil wished he were dead. He hid away from sight for three days. Hunger however forced him out, and as he was crawling across a pathway, a man who came along was going to crush him underfoot, but Mother Carey whispered, “No, don’t do it.” So the man let him live, but roughly kicked the worm aside, and bruised him fearfully.

Then came Mother Carey and said: “Well, little ugly worm! Is your spirit strong, or angry?”

The worm said bravely, though feebly: “Mother, Mother Carey, I am trying to be strong. I want to win.”

The breezes were losing their gentle warmth when Mother Carey came to him one day, and said: “Little one, your trial has been long, but it is nearly over.

“Prepare to sleep now, my little horny one, you have fought a brave fight; your reward is coming. Because your soul has been made beautiful by your suffering, I will give you a body blazing with such beauty as shall make all stand in adoration when you pass.” Then Mother Earth said, “Our little one shall have extra care because he has had extra trials.” So the tired little Horn-devil did not even have to make himself a hammock, for Mother Earth received him and he snuggled into her bosom. As Mother Carey waved her wand, he dropped off asleep. And he slept for two hundred days.

Then came the great Awakening Day, the resurrection day of the woods. Many new birds arrived. Many new flowers appeared. Sleepers woke from underground, as Mother Carey’s silent trumpeters went bugling ahead of her, and her winged horse, the Warm Wind, came sweeping across the meadows, with the white world greening as he came.

The bundle-baby of the Horn-devil woke up. He was cramped and sleepy, but soon awake. Then he knew that he was a prisoner, bound up in silken cords of strength. But new powers were his now, he was able to break the cords and crawl out of his hole. He put up his feelers to find those horrible horns, but they were gone, and his devil form fell off him like a mask. He had wings, jewelled wings! on his back now. Out he came to fluff the newfound wings awhile, and when they were spread and supple he flew into the joyful night, one of the noblest of all the things that fly, gorgeous in gold and velvet, body and wings; filled with the joy of life and flight, he went careering through the soft splendour of the coming night. And as he flew, he glimpsed a radiant form ahead, a being like himself, with wings of velvet and gold. At first he thought it was the Princess of the Hickory Tree, but now his eyes were perfect, and he could see that this was a younger and more beautiful Spangled Princess than the one of his bygone life, and all his heart was filled with the blazing fire of love. Fearlessly now he flew to overtake her; for was she not of his own kind? She sped away, very fast at first, but maybe she did not go as fast as she could, for soon he was sailing by her side. At first she turned away a little, but she was not cross or frightened now. She was indeed inclined to play and tease. Then in their own language, he asked her to marry him, and in their own language she said, “yes.” Away they flew and flew on their wedding flight, high in the trees in the purple night, glorious in velvet and gold, more happy than these printed words can tell.

The wise men who saw them said, “There go the Royal Citheronia and his bride.” And Mother Carey smiled as she saw their bliss, and remembered the Hickory Horn-devil.